Saturday, May 7, 2022

A Modern Greek Tragedy

 


Jeff–Saturday

 

I truly did not want to write this post.

 

On the one hand Greece is beautiful, its people warm and welcoming, and its reputation as among the safest nations in the EU well deserved. But on the other hand, converting unthinkable familial tragedy into dramatic theater is an ancient art form in Greece, and recent events in Greece’s third largest city, Patras, have true life imitating art in the most heinous of ways.

 

I’ve blogged recently about the Greek pilot who a year ago allegedly murdered his wife (and dog) in front of his eleven-month-old child and then conjured up a home-invasion explanation that the police promptly debunked.

 

As horrific as that story is, today the country is consumed by a modern-day twist on Euripides’s Medea. The matter is still under investigation, but the threads of the story—if true––would turn even Hannibal Lecter’s stomach.

 


The news story broke in February and centers upon the deaths of three sisters, ages 6 months, 3 ½ years, and 9 years, in 2019, 2021, and 2022 respectively—all born to the same parents.

 


The Greek media exploded with coverage, including television interviews with the mother and father.

 


Rather that recounting the details, I think I’ll take a hint from the Greek dramatists and provide you with relevant excerpts from the developing—and far from over—story as reported in Ekathimerini, Greece’s newspaper of record (reporting, in part, by Yiannis Souliotis).

 

February 9, 2022

 

Investigation into deaths of three children from same Patra family in three years

 

Prosecutors in the western city of Patra have ordered a preliminary investigation into the deaths of three young girls from the same family who died within three years of one another.

 

Georgina, Iris, Malena

According to local news site thebest.gr, the investigation was launched in order to answer the questions of the girls’ parents as well as doctors.

 

Another local site, pelop.gr, reported that the cause of death of the latest fatality, a 9-year-old who died about 10 days ago, remains unclear.

 

March 30, 2022

 

Mother of three dead children detained by police 

 

Greek police on Wednesday detained the mother of three young girls who died in the space of three years.

 

The 33-year-old woman from the city of Patra in southwestern Greece was expected to be led before a prosecutor in Athens later in the day.

 

The histological and toxicological analyses conducted on the body of 9-year-old Georgina, the last child of the family who died at the Aglaia Kyriakou Children’s Hospital in Athens at the end of January 2022, have been completed and the findings are in the hands of medical examiner Sotiris Bouzianis, who will determine the cause of death.

 


The first forensic examinations concluded last Thursday but Bouzianis ordered a further examination of the sample due to a “suspicious” substance that was detected in the body of the 9-year-old.

 

Georgina was the third girl of the family to die in since 2019. Her demise was preceded by the death of her 3.5-year-old sister Malena in the summer of 2019 and of 6-month-old Iris, in 2021.

 

Prosecutors in Patra ordered a preliminary investigation into the deaths to answer the questions of the girls’ parents as well as doctors.

 

April 1, 2022

 

Mother’s strange behavior key to arrest

 

The arrest of a 33-year-old woman on Wednesday on charges she intentionally killed her 9-year-old daughter Georgina was preceded by a detailed analysis by police investigators who heard testimonies from nurses, staff and medical examiners at the hospital in the western city of Patra where the child died in late January.

 

The woman was arrested in her hometown of Patra and was transferred to Attica Police Headquarters (GADA), where she spent the night. Roula Pispirigou will remain at GADA until Monday.

 


An Athens prosecutor on Thursday gave her until Monday to prepare her defense.

 

Also on Thursday, her mother and sister were summoned to GADA, while her estranged husband is also expected to receive a call.

 

Georgina died in hospital on January 29 and postmortem toxicology tests showed she had received ketamine, an anesthetic drug often used in animal surgeries, which had not been prescribed by her treating doctors.

 

According to the case file, “the only person who was in Georgina’s room for the last 20 minutes of her life, before the side effects of the drug kicked in, was her mother.”

 

Georgina died at noon, with her mother informing doctors at 2.30 p.m. that her daughter suffered cardiac arrest. A hospital nurse testified to police that she saw the accused approaching her in search of a nurse. She described, however, that the way she walked and the fact that she did not call for help initially gave her the impression that she wanted to ask her for a sheet or something similar. The nurse also said that the oximeter that had been placed on the child in order to notify staff in case of a drop in pulse had been mysteriously removed.

 

Staff also said that a day before the death, Pispirigou had told them, referring to her daughter’s heart condition, that they “had seen nothing yet” and that “the big episode has not taken place yet.”

 

Among the list of incidents that raised the suspicions of doctors and nursing staff was that Pispirigou had asked if there were security cameras in the rooms. What’s more, whenever Georgina experienced convulsions, bradycardia or other serious issues, she was alone in the hospital room with her mother. Her death, indicatively, occurred two days after the girl’s father, Manos Daskalakis, the estranged husband of Pispirigou, had left the hospital.

 

[Ed. Note:  It’s also been reported that “The mother stated that she knew how to administer the drugs and that she wanted to administer them herself. As Georgina’s health deteriorated, the hospital ordered that the drugs only be administrated by nurses.”]

 

April 4, 2022

 

Woman accused of killing daughter ordered detained ahead of trial

 

A woman accused of killing her hospitalized 9-year-old daughter was ordered held in pre-trial prison custody late Monday, under enhanced protection measures to prevent her from being attacked by other inmates.

 

Earlier the 33-year-old suspect was led under heavy police guard to an Athens court for an arraignment, as screaming onlookers hurled insults and tried to assault her.

 

Authorities are also investigating the deaths of the suspect’s two other daughters.

She has denied any wrongdoing, and her lawyer said Monday that his client believes the death she has been charged with may be due to medical error. Hospital officials denied that.

 

The case has gripped public attention in Greece, with most media routinely referring to the suspect as a murderer — reviling her, among other things, for allegedly having displayed little emotion at the deaths of her children.

 


The woman was arrested last week after an anesthetic drug was found in tissue samples of her 9-year-old daughter who died in January following a lengthy stay in the hospital.

 

A panel of senior coroners is also leading a review into the deaths of the suspect’s two other daughters: a 3-year-old from liver failure in 2019 and a 6-month-old in 2021 from a suspected heart defect.

 

Police had to fend off aggressive onlookers Monday at a court complex in the Greek capital to lead the suspect into the public prosecutor’s office to present her defense.

 

Several in the crowd ‒ some of whom were awaiting trial for separate alleged offenses ‒ chanted “Death! Death!″ as they tried to break through the police cordon. Greece has long abolished capital punishment.

 



Authorities have not identified the woman, but her lawyers have named her as Roula Pispirigou from the western port city of Patras.

 

April 9, 2022

 

Tablet retrieved from girl’s grave after magistrate’s order

 

A tablet that was buried with a 9-year-old girl whose 33-year-old mother is accused of killing and which could provide evidence on her demise was retrieved on Saturday morning, following an order by the magistrate investigating the case.

 

The tablet was buried with the girl at the insistence of her mother, Roula Pispirigou, from the western city of Patra, saying it was her favorite item.

The decision to open the grave followed the testimony of the father, Manos Daskalakis, who has stated he supports the accusation against his estranged wife and confirmed that the tablet had been buried with her.

 

The girl, Georgina, died in hospital in late January, and Pispirigou, who has denied the charges, was arrested last week, after postmortem toxicology tests showed she had received ketamine, a drug which had not been prescribed by her doctors.

Georgina was the third girl of the family to die since 2019. The deaths have prompted a police investigation.

 

April 12, 2022


New forensic probe ordered over deaths of younger daughters in Patra case

 

At a makeshift shrine set up by local residents outside the home where the three children lived with their mother and father, in Patra, in western Greece, ‘Death to the child killers’ is scrawled on one of the shutters.

 

The prosecutors investigating a 33-year-old woman from the western port city of Patra who stands accused of killing her 9-year-old daughter have asked for an entirely new forensic probe into the deaths of the woman’s other two girls, in 2021 and 2019.

 

According to state broadcaster ERT, forensic investigators will seek to determine whether foul play may have been involved in the deaths of Irida, who was six months old when she passed away in the family’s Patra home in March last year, and Malena, who died in hospital in July 2019 at the age of 3.

 

Malena’s death had reportedly been documented as being caused by liver failure, while the official coroner’s report on Irida has not been completed, as the probe into her death has only gotten as far as ruling out genetic causes.

 

Tuesday’s request for a fresh forensic investigation comes in the wake of findings indicating that 33-year-old Roula Pispirigkou may have administered a lethal dose of the drug ketamine to her eldest daughter, Georgina, while the child was being treated in hospital in January for mysterious symptoms reported by the mother.

 

Investigators are also hoping to find clues into the deaths of the three children on Georgina’s tablet, which was exhumed last week from the young girl’s grave, where it had been buried along with a few other of her belongings.

 

The telling of this dramatic tragedy is far from over…

 

–Jeff

 

Jeff’s Upcoming Events

 

Saturday, May 14, 11:00 a.m. ET

Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books

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12 comments:

  1. A truly horrific story. It would be hard to make a reader believe a story like that if it were
    fiction...

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    Replies
    1. My sentiments exactly, Michael. It also supports what a noted psychiatrist once told me: "Within one mile of wherever you live, there's likely occurring at any given moment the most horrific criminal acts you can imagine."

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  2. Every time I hear a story like this where a parent kills their child(ren)[and it happens all too often], I feel sick. What could possess them? Tragic.

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    Replies
    1. Tragic for sure. Whatever possesses them is not forgiven in this life, Dave. Indeed, those imprisoned are the most despised by their fellow inmates.

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  3. We are all capable of anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lenny KleinfeldMay 7, 2022 at 3:53 PM

      Correction to that last comment: my name isn’t spelled “Anonymous.”

      Delete
    2. But thankfully few exercise the capability--even anonymously.

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  4. I wonder why the police didn't get suspicious and investigate earlier. It's odd. Definitely some psychopathic behavior there, enabled by relatives.

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    Replies
    1. All good questions and points...awaiting answers.

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  5. Tottie MitchellMay 8, 2022 at 9:52 AM

    Sounds like Monchausen Syndrome. Horrific.

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    Replies
    1. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. Truly horrific.

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  6. Why don't relatives, neighbors, doctors intervene when this happens? It's very strange like they all closed ranks to protect the parents, instead of protecting the children.

    ReplyDelete